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WIREs Clim Change
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Big Data Approaches for coastal flood risk assessment and emergency response

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Big Data Approaches (BDAs) refers to the combined use of historic datasets, incoming data streams, and the array of related technologies designed to shed new light on societal and environmental complexities through novel organizational, storage, and analytical capabilities. Despite widespread recognition of the commercial benefits of BDAs, application in the environmental domain is less well articulated. This represents a missed opportunity given that the dimensions used to characterize BDAs (volume, variety, velocity, and veracity) appear apt in describing the intractable challenges posed by global climate change. This paper employs coastal flood risk management as an illustrative case study to explore the potential applications in the environmental domain. Trends in global change including accelerating sea level rise, concentration of people and assets in low‐lying areas and deterioration of protective coastal ecosystems are expected to manifest locally as increased future flood risk. Two branches of coastal flood risk management are considered. First, coastal flood risk assessment, focusing on better characterization of hazard sources, facilitative pathways, and vulnerable receptors. Second, flood emergency response procedures, focusing on forecasting of flooding events, dissemination of warnings, and response monitoring. Critical commentary regarding technical, contextual, institutional, and behavioral barriers to the implementation of BDAs is offered throughout including a discussion of two fundamental difficulties associated with applying BDAs to coastal flood risk management: the role of BDAs in the broader flood system and the skill requirements for a generation of data scientists capable of implementing Big Data Approaches. This article is categorized under: Social Status of Climate Change Knowledge > Knowledge and Practice Climate, History, Society, Culture > Technological Aspects and Ideas
Flood events in the context of incertitude. This figure applies Stirling's () categorization of incomplete knowledge states to flooding
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Extracting pertinent flood risk information form Twitter (Reprinted with permission from Smith et al. (). Copyright The Authors, 2018)
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Big Data Approaches are especially well suited to address problems at the event and engineering scale (Reprinted with permission from Cowell and Thom (). Copyright The Authors, 2018)
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Climate, History, Society, Culture > Technological Aspects and Ideas
Social Status of Climate Change Knowledge > Knowledge and Practice

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